Yes, Virginia, There Are Still Sports Heroes
I love, and I mean love, college football. I played it, I watch it, and I follow it, but I have a feeling that a lot of you, like me, are sooo ready for all the college football bowl games to come to an end. Seriously, is there a college team this year that did not play in a bowl? And when you read about a bowl game called the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (I’m not making that up), you have to wonder what’s next. The Toilet Bowl?
The season finally — yes, finally! — ends this week. But before it does, I’d like to take a moment and say a fond farewell to one of the great young men in the history of the game: University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Chances are, you might not know much about him other than his playing ability, but if you are a parent, he is worth a second look. This year especially, when so many headlines have been about sports stars embroiled in scandal, we should all take the time to acknowledge a real All-American hero. Tebow is exactly the kind of role model we are so in need of for our kids, who get bombarded with the glamorization of the wrong kind of attention-getters in today’s world.
And I’m not saying that simply because Tebow had such a remarkable football career that includes leading the Gators to two national titles, winning a Heisman trophy and being named a Heisman finalist two other times. At his young age, 22, and with all the responsibilities already put upon him, he takes the time — and I mean a lot of time —to help the poor and the disadvantaged. He uses his popularity to make a difference in this world, and he also inspires others, including his own coach and teammates, to make a similar difference.
The son of missionaries, Tebow inherited his parents’ religious devotion. Even if you are just a casual fan, you have probably seen him. He’s the one who always has references to scripture verses, like John 3:16, highlighted on the eye black underneath his eyes. In the offseason, he goes on missions. He speaks and prays in prisons, at hospitals and at a leper colony. He’s raised more than $300,000 for 48 orphans who live at Uncle Dick’s Home, an orphanage in a part of the Philippines so remote it has no mailing address. Taking a cue from his quarterback, Florida coach Urban Meyer and his family now take their own mission trips, and Tebow’s teammates regularly join him for charity fundraisers.
If you’ve seen Tebow play, you’ve no doubt been impressed by his fierce competitive nature. And I’m sure, judging by his Sugar Bowl performance, he’s poised to have a productive NFL career. But what I find amazing is that when he talks about the long-term future, he says his ultimate hope is that football will provide a way for him to run a charitable empire. He plans to someday open more orphanages, launch a prison ministry, open youth ranches and grant wishes to underprivileged children.
I cannot tell you how outraged I get when I read some of the snarky sportswriters and hear sportscasters who make fun of Tebow for being such a goody-two shoes guy. Come on, can’t we just celebrate someone who does it right? Have we become that ridiculously cynical as a society that the only thing that sells is scandal, to the point that parts of the media actually resent a genuinely good guy?
Please, all you parents who are looking for a role model for your children, I recommend that you introduce them to the world of Tim Tebow. He’s really a role model for all of us. I noticed for his last home game, he chose two verses from the Book of Hebrews to highlight on his eye black. The first verse said this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Those are great words to live by. So thank you, Tim, for all that you’ve given us. You live your life with great class and dignity. Good luck in whatever you do next.